PFTF student presenting

Why It Matters

The job market in all sectors, including in academia, is highly competitive and the pursuit of a higher-level degree is complex.

Professors for the Future is a unique UC Davis program that aptly prepares graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to take these challenges head-on.

This competitive, professional development program provides cohorts of students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills through workshops and meaningful, graduate-community-focused service projects, plus gives them insider’s knowledge into academia. These skills and knowledge have helped hundreds of PFTF fellows excel in a myriad of careers in an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing marketplace. Here is more about why PFTF is such an effective program:

5 Reasons Why PFTF Matters

1. Professional Development

A powerful element of PFTF is that we empower students to realize their future career not an abstract concept, but an achievable reality.

We accomplish this by giving our fellows real-world professional development skills that transform them from scholars into future professors and leaders.

We want to ensure our fellows have the skills to not only conduct impactful research and teaching, but also the confidence and know-how for applying this expertise and sharing it through their hard work with the next generation.

2. Engaging Workshops, Retreats and Speaking Events

Many fellows say their favorite parts of the PFTF experience are the engaging workshops, retreats and courses that are hosted throughout the yearlong fellowship.

At these meetings, fellows get VIP access to top-level administrators where they are given an insider’s knowledge of the intricacies of the university system.

As one PFTF faculty mentor said: PFTF gives fellows "both a sense of the 'big picture' of universities and a greater sense of agency to work for positive systemic change in the academy.”

Many fellows say this knowledge gives them huge competitive advantages as young faculty members because they can start their positions with a knowledge base that would otherwise take years to acquire on the job.

Additionally, fellows coordinate and lead the majority of the meetings, which enhances their professional growth through inviting and connecting with speakers  ensure the issues that are discussed at the meetings are relevant to the current graduate student and postdoctoral scholar experience.

3. Collaborative Cohorts

A person’s Ph.D. experience can vary drastically across disciplines. PFTF creates supportive, collaborative environments where students from various departments throughout the university can share their unique doctoral or postdoctoral experiences. Students learn from each other and enlightening each other with a fresh perspective. This new perspective, plus the relationships forged, can make all the difference on a fellow’s successful completion of their Ph.D. pursuits.

4. Leadership Training

Leadership is a skill unto itself and one that is pertinent to the prospects of a career in academia, especially for top-level administrative positions. Despite its importance, leadership skills are rarely taught as part of a person’s pursuit of a doctoral degree.

PFTF provides each class of fellows with robust leadership trainings. Additionally, they put those skills into practice as they execute their academic service projects and participate in PFTF meetings and retreats. These invaluable experiences set these scholars up for success when they embark upon their careers and future ambitions. They learn to approach problems with a different mindset and see themselves as leaders.

5. Impactful Projects

Our fellow-led, academic service projects create moments of empowerment and impact. Time and again our fellows say they are “empowered” and achieved “a huge sense of accomplishment” as they execute these projects, bringing them from an idea to reality.

All of the projects are rooted in the goal of positively improving the graduate student and postdoc experience, which means the work that each fellow accomplishes positively impacts hundreds within the UC Davis graduate community and beyond.

If you are interested in becoming a PFTF fellow, visit this page with information on how to apply.

To nominate a doctoral student or postdoctoral scholar for PFTF, visit this page.

Contact Us

  • Office Phone: 530-754-1457
  • Email: gpi@ucdavis.edu